"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

On the importance of debate (III)

From the proceedings of the House of Assembly on May 16, 2001.

Yet again, one might wonder what became of that nice Mr. Ottenheimer:
MR. OTTENHEIMER: Yesterday in the House, the Deputy Premier was asked directly whether the government would make a commitment that before a Voisey’s Bay deal is signed, final and binding, that the government will bring it to this Legislature for debate and put it before the people of the Province so they can see and comment on what is in the deal. Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Premier answered quite simply by saying: Yes, Mr. Speaker.

The Premier, while he was Minister of Mines and Energy, on November 29 and November 30, and again on December 6, 1999, was asked the very same question here in this House and all three times he said, Mr. Speaker, no.

I would like to ask the Premier to tell the people of the Province, for the record today, Mr. Premier: Will you make a commitment that before the government signs a final and binding Voisey’s Bay development deal, the government will put that deal before the people of the Province for scrutiny and input and bring it to this Legislature for debate?

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, let me say this: I know he is particularly sensitive today. He is not having a good day and he should read the bill. Bill 10 would be the real answer, Mr. Speaker.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: Mr. Speaker, I would ask that the critic for Mines and Energy maybe check with the Leader of the Opposition, based upon what he said today about wanting to debate outside the Legislature, whether he really wants to ask the question he just asked. Do you want the debate in the Legislature or not? Because on Bill 10 he wants to have the debate outside the Legislature, Mr. Speaker.

MR. OTTENHEIMER: The Premier reminds me of the question: Are you an indecisive person? And the response being: Well, Sir, yes and no.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

MR. OTTENHEIMER: I ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker: What is it? Is it the position that his Minister of Mines and Energy has alluded to? Is it the position of yesterday, of the Deputy Premier? Or, is it his position of 1999? What is it, Premier? How will this issue be determined once and for all? Will the people of this Province be a part of this very significant public issue?

PREMIER GRIMES: I commend the hon. member on his perfect and very apt description of the Opposition today -

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear!

PREMIER GRIMES: - because they do not know which particular view they want to take.

Mr. Speaker, let the record be very clear on this issue. With respect to Voisey’s Bay or any other issue of significance and importance in Newfoundland and Labrador, this government’s insistence is that the people of Newfoundland and Labrador will know the details of anything that is done; and they will be convinced by knowing the details, Mr. Speaker, in every public, possible way, whether it is inside or outside of the Legislature, whatever is most appropriate at the time. They will be convinced because they will see the details. We want them to know the details because then the fearmongering and the criticism of the Opposition will be exposed for what it is. They are frightened to death to see something that is good for Newfoundland and Labrador happen. They do not want it to happen. The people of Newfoundland and Labrador will see the details inside or outside the Legislature, and we will insist upon it because we know that when they see the details in a deal that is good for Newfoundland and Labrador they will fully endorse and support the initiatives that government takes on their behalf.


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